When testing concluded on June 2 in Tri-Cities, Craig Fjarlie talked with four drivers about what they learned and their preparation for the race in Guntersville.
Corey Peabody – Miss Beacon Plumbing
What did you learn while testing today?
I came here with the intention to do boat set-up and that was it. After the accident (in Madison last year) we were just focused on making sure the boat was going to drive straight with the changes that we made.
What were those changes?
To make the ride better. We wanted to see what it would do. We tip-toed into our day and still showed some really good speed, so that was good for us.
You were happy with want you saw?
We’re extremely happy. We learned what we wanted, to go into Guntersville.
We understand the course at Guntersville will have wider turns this year.
We tested some things today in preparation for that. The last run we just did was for that. We are going to see if we want to make some more changes. We know what we want to do. We have our starting point and we’ll just continue on with that. As far as getting ready for Guntersville, we know what we want to do and hopefully we can get it done really quick and be down at Guntersville and have a heck of a race. I’m excited to go down there. We saw some really good speeds today and we weren’t expecting to, because that wasn’t what we were here for, so that’s a bonus. Now we’ll really start to hone in on a couple other things; the engine, faster speeds.
Jamie Nilsen – Legend Yacht Transport
Did you learn some things in testing today?
Yes, we learned a ton today, having this boat back out, making a lot of changes to it. The last time we ran it was two years ago. Got it to go in a straight line, we got it to handle really well, and actually showed some pretty good speed, too. We feel we’re ahead of where we were, going into Guntersville.
How are you going to approach Guntersville. We hear the course will have wider turns this year, so it will be a big course.
Well, we’re going to approach it like we approach every other race, and that’s try to win. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we show up. Our goal is to give it everything we’ve got to win the race, so that’s what we’re going to do.
Dustin Echols – Bucket List Racing
What did you learn in testing today?
We started the day extremely conservative. We wanted to run a big set-up and take it pretty easy on everything and just check on the repairs and maintenance we did in the off-season. The boat came out pretty fast. I wasn’t able to even use it all because it was pretty loose, so we worked on dialing it in a little bit as the day went on. Every time we went out, we got faster and faster.
We made a few changes, and every single change worked in the right direction. It worked the way we thought it would, so it gives us a big confidence boost going into the races now. We had no problems with any systems. We really didn’t have a problem the entire day with anything we did with the boat. We can go out there and keep going faster and faster, but we already know what we need to do and there’s no sense running the guts out of the thing until something breaks.
We’ve been told the Guntersville course will be bigger and will have wider turns this year.
That’s what I’ve been told. It’s going to be kind of the super-speedway of hydroplane racing, which plays right into our favor. We have some really big set-ups and I think this boat handles well at top speed. I’m getting more and more comfortable flying the boat. It’s going to make it great for the fans to see how fast these things can go. If it’s as wide as what I hear, then we’re not going to be slowing down very much in the corners. They’re going to be wound up the entire time and it should make for some fantastic racing.
J. Michael Kelly – Miss Beacon Electric
When you finished your testing, did you learn some things?
Today was a great day of testing. We definitely learned a lot, not just with my boat but with Corey’s boat. A lot of work happened in the off-season with both boats, so it was kind of baby steps, really, to make sure they were handling okay and see what these changes we made this off-season indicated. I’d have to say that what they did definitely helped in the performance and handling of the boat. We’re extremely happy.
The boat looked better on the water.
The first year we ran this boat, 2021, it was pretty fast. Last year, we fell off and kind of went backwards. The Campbell brothers and the guys at the shop just started diving into my boat and it’s back to being fast. Now it’s just fine-tuning and getting the handling better. I’m excited, the boat is headed in the right direction. We found that speed and now we just have to fine-tune it.
We’re hearing that Guntersville will have a bigger course with wide turns this year, so it will be a really fast race. Is there anything special you will have to do for that?
We did a little bit of testing today just to try some different stuff. It’s going to come down to gears. The (crew) guys will know. I’m sure they have a good idea what we’re going to do. I trust their decisions, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited; let’s go out there and see what the boat, and the hard work they’ve put into it, can do.